• Non-Fiction
  • Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines


Book Information

Candlewick September 2014
Social Studies Curriculum

“Oh  mercy, mercy meAh things  ain’t what they used to beWhat  about this overcrowded landHow much  more abuse from man can she stand?”-- Marvin  Gaye

“Who  would guess that Citizens for Recycling First is a coal industryfront group  promoting the use of coal ash in industry?  The Greening EarthSociety sounds green, but it’s in favor of CO2 emissions.”EYES WIDE  OPEN is about the global environmental issues that -- if notdealt with  substantively -- will make Planet Earth uninhabitable forhumankind.

But even  more importantly, EYES WIDE OPEN is a book about informationliteracy.  It shows how the world really works in  the 21st century, and itrepeatedly reveals how people are often duped into  opposing their own bestinterests.

One of  the most important concepts presented by Paul Fleischman is theneed to  understand and recognize vested interests:“If you  owned an energy-drink factory, your desire to make a profit wouldgive you a  vested interest in opposing laws that would keep your productout of school  vending machines.  You’d no doubt  belong to a trade group thatwould hire lobbyists to fight such laws.  Your trade group would hirepublic  relations (PR) firms to improve the public’s opinion of energy drinksthrough  ads, articles, Facebook posts, tweets, and the ‘talking heads’ yousee  interviewed on TV news.  The  information dispersed might or might not beaccurate.  Its goal isn’t truth but promoting  energy drinks.

“This  distinction is crucial.  Impartial  investigators have nothing togain from their particular findings.  They test and revise them in acontinuing quest for accuracy.  This  is the model science follows.  Vested interests’ prime goal is preserving their power, not seeking  truth.  The evidenceis all around  you.  When powerful people or  institutions are accused ofmisconduct -- from army massacres and police  brutality cases to clergysex-abuse scandals and cyclist Lance Armstrong’s use  of performance-enhancingdrugs -- the first reaction is almost always to refute  the charge, no matterhow accurate.  If the truth is a threat to power, money, or reputation, there’s a strong  motive to cover it up.”

In a past  era, students were expected to memorize a limited body ofinformation and  regurgitate it during tests.  But  today, the forever-growingwealth of information makes it essential for students  to learn how to efficiently search for, retrieve, and evaluate the information  they need to answerquestions and solve problems.  EYES WIDE OPEN provides a common senseframework for understanding why we regularly encounter so much  misinformation.EYES WIDE  OPEN is an apt title for this indispensable book. Issues ofworldwide population  growth, of increases in production of and consumption ofstuff, of the race to  exploit fossil fuels, of the need to produce largerand larger amounts of food,  and the climate changes that result from allthese other global issues don’t  cause us to react in the same way that the 9/11attacks did.  Most of us are ignorant of the planet-  and people-damagingprocesses through which our stuff and energy and food are  produced.  We cango on forever  blind to what’s really going on, unless we begin to payattention.

Throughout  EYES WIDE OPEN, Paul Fleischman refers to dozens of other booksand information  resources, each of which will further enlighten readersabout these  environmental and information issues.  One could readily build acomprehensive course of study around these  references.“‘History  teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they haveexhausted all other  alternatives.’”

-- Abba  Eban (1915-2002), as quoted in EYES WIDE OPENBarring  some nick-of-time miracle cure, our generation and the ones thatfollow are  eventually going to be forced by Mother Nature to wise up andmake some hard  choices.  Those who read EYES WIDE  OPEN will have taken agiant step toward understanding these issues and the  necessity for action.

978-0-7636-7102-0    208 pages  Ages   13 and up

Richie  Partington, MLISRichie's  Picks  (http://richiespicks.com/)_http://richiespicks.pbworks.com_ (http://richiespicks.com/)


From the publisher - Candlewick Press

What's really going on with the environment?-?in our own backyards and the wider world? Conflicting information is offered by websites, magazines, and documentaries that blur the line between news and opinion. Not every report is reliable; not every interest group is actually composed of concerned citizens. In this dynamic account, award-winning author Paul Fleischman arms teens with the basic tools to uncover vested interests and falsehoods by vetting sources, following the money, and checking references so that they can make informed decisions about what actions to take in the worldwide battle against climate change, overconsumption, and dwindling resources. Extensive back matter, including a glossary, bibliography, and index, as well as numerous references to websites, provides further resources.

Paul Fleischman offers teens an environmental wake-up call and a tool kit for decoding the barrage of conflicting information confronting them.

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